We are running a 3-Part series on Raleigh’s Municipal Elections.

Today, in Part-3, we discuss term-lengths and the size and makeup of the Council.

What about Term Length?

Raleigh’s City Council members currently are elected to two-year terms. There are some who are suggesting a move to four-year terms as it is expensive and time-consuming to run every two years.

However, NC’s General Assembly members serve two-year terms, as do members of the US House of Representatives.

Charlotte and Wilmington have two-year terms.

Greensboro, Asheville, Wake Forest, and Cary have four-year terms.

Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Fuquay-Varina elect their mayors to a two-year term, but councilors to four-year terms.

Livable Raleigh believes two-year terms mean council members work harder to remain close to their constituencies. However, if four-year terms are to be implemented, Livable Raleigh strongly recommends that the Mayor still be elected every two years, and that a non-partisan primary be held before the general election. 

We also recommend staggered terms so that, aside from the mayor, half of the council may turn over every two years, but not the entire council at one time. If at-large seats are kept, they should remain at only two seats and be split into different cycles in the “stagger.” This will eliminate the “vote for two” process we use now and would ensure that the winner gets a majority of the vote.

Size of council

Currently Raleigh’s City Council includes eight members – the Mayor, two at-large seats, and five district seats. The number of council seats was last increased in the 1970s. Raleigh’s population has increased from about 122,000 in 1970 to about 500,000 today.

Increasing council size would seem to make sense. For example, with our current population, each District Councilor represents about 100,000 residents. If we added three more district seats, they would represent about 62,500.

At-large or District?

Per the above, three council members currently are elected at-large – the Mayor and two at-large seats. Five members are elected from each of five districts.

It is much more expensive and time-consuming to run at-large, which has an impact on candidate diversity.

Often at-large council members find it more difficult to get “close” to their constituents, compared with district councilors.

Livable Raleigh recommends the elimination of all at-large seats and proposes a council consisting of a mayor (elected at-large), and 10 district councilors.

What can you do?

City Council discusses all these topics regularly, so if you subscribe to Livable Raleigh’s weekly email you will be in the know about changes they are considering.

If there is polling or a referendum on these topics, please take the time to express your opinion.

Consider contacting your City Council members to let them know how you feel.

But most of all – take the time to be an informed voter!

Livable Raleigh Editorial Team

Missed Part-1? Read it here – Raleigh Elections – When are they?

Missed Part-2? Read it here – Raleigh Elections – Plurality vs Majority

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